John Woo hits US screens after 6 years

HONG KONG: John Woo's new Chinese-language historical epic will be shown in North American movie theatres later this year, marking the "Mission: Impossible II" director's first U.S. release in six years.

Magnet Releasing said in a statement sent to The Associated Press late Monday it has bought the American rights to "Red Cliff" and will release it this fall. Magnet Releasing is co-owned by Mark Cuban, the owner of NBA team Dallas Mavericks, and Todd Wagner.

Canadian distributor E1 Entertainment will release the film in Canada at the same time.

The statement didn't say how many theatres "Red Cliff" will be released in. The terms of the deal also weren't given.

"Red Cliff" producer Terence Chang also refused to reveal the worth of the deal, but said in an e-mail to the AP late Monday, "I am happy about it." "Red Cliff," about an ancient Chinese battle by the same name, was Hong Kong native Woo's first Chinese-language film since the 1992 action thriller "Hard-Boiled." The $80 million two-parter starring Cannes best actor winner Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Japanese-Taiwanese heartthrob Takeshi Kaneshiro was a massive hit in Asia, earning more than $100 million in Japan alone, according to Magnet Releasing.

The film, however, will be released in North America as a single installment for Western audiences less familiar with the story, but both Asian installments will be issued on DVD and video-on-demand services, Magnet Releasing said.

The U.S. deal also marks Woo's first release in the U.S. since "Paycheck," the 2003 sci-fi thriller starring Ben Affleck and Uma Thurman. While "Mission: Impossible II" was a big hit in the U.S. in 2000, earning $215 million, Woo's two Hollywood films after that were less successful, with the 2002 war film "Windtalkers" raking in $41 million and "Paycheck" making $54 million.